Few conservation laws have had a greater or more lasting impact than the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and its allies have been working to undermine this capstone law through legislative riders and regulatory rollbacks. In Congress, the assault has been led by Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA), who, in September 2005, introduced a bill (H.R. 3824) that would:
> Eliminate all protections for “critical habitat” (habitat essential to the conservation of a species) in the law;
> Exempt EPA’s regulation of pesticide from the Endangered Species Act;
> Mandate open-ended payments to developers for complying with the act;
> Allow political appointees, including the Secretary of Interior, to overrule the scientific decisions made by wildlife experts; and
> Short-circuit Fish and Wildlife Service review of federal agency actions that affect endangered species.
Pombo’s bill was sent to the House floor without balanced hearings or adequate time to review its implications. Despite near-universal condemnation by editorial writers, the House approved the bill on September 29, 2005 by a 229-193 vote (House roll call vote 506). NO is the pro-environment vote.
The Senate did not act on the bill in 2005.